Ferronickel ores ready to be shipped overseas from Pomala Port in Kolaka, North Sulawesi. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

Indonesia to Start Production of Lithium Battery in 2023


DECEMBER 12, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia is moving to the next stage of nickel processing with the end goal of producing its own lithium batteries by 2023, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said.

Luhut said the goal is part of a grand strategy to lower the national deficit by pushing for more export of value-added commodities instead of raw materials.

"For many years, we've only been producing nickel ores. Processing them into lithium batteries should make a big impact on our export and potentially reduce our $31 billion deficit," Luhut said in his office in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The minister said Indonesia is already learning how to perform high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL), a process to extract nickel and cobalt from laterite ores and an important step in the production of lithium batteries.

"We're hoping to get the environmental license from Ms. Siti [Nurbaya, Environment and Forestry Minister] before the end of this year," Luhut said.

The government will partner with Chinese battery company GEM and lithium battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to build a lithium battery factory expected to be completed in the next 18 months to two years.

Indonesia has the biggest nickel reserves in the world with 21 million tons, above Australia (19 million tons) and Brazil (11 million tons).

Luhut said the plan to produce lithium batteries, which are used in electric cars, is also a reaction to the European Union's (EU) plan to ban fossil-fueled vehicles by 2045.

When this happens, the EU market will be very promising for Made in Indonesia lithium batteries.

Luhut said the new lithium battery factory is set to be built in Patimban, near Subang in West Java.